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Is Alcoholism a hereditary disease or a personal, avoidable problem?

As I am working my way through the one and only booklet that seems to be a guideline for gathering knowledge on what the facts are about alcoholism and which dates from 1981, Under the Influence*, I can’t still help to feel the need to publish my personal opinion. When I first started to look into this subject, shortly after the death of my brother Pim in 2003, who suffered a terrible death as a diabetic and severely addicted alcoholic, I was strongly opinionated against the ‘disease model’ , suspecting deeper and more informative reasons for the self-destructive behavior of the alcoholic.

I had started some 20 years before that incident, to try to make sense of the experiences of myself and of those of my brother. My brother’s death and my own severe insomnia and other difficulties in daily life, heavy problems of 2 of the 5 members of my family of origin, motivated me to draw my very own conclusions that I wish to share on this webpage.

As I reread (in 2010) ‘Under the Influence’ I find, compared to my initial reading in 2003, much more value in the answers the author gives to the so fiercely debated question whether alcohol is a disease for which one is to be pitied rather than to be blamed or a situation that can be avoided by taking one’s personal responsibility.

I am impressed with the explanations of the chemical reactions in the body that requires a lot of knowledge that I don’t have. I accept that and am grateful for the information. However the concept that I have been suspected to be and stay absent in the common ways it is understood why some people are/become alcoholics and others don’t  is indeed still not mentioned and based on that fact I presume, unknown.

I consider it my duty to shed a light on it from the position where I am in: a former insomniac who lost her brother to alcoholism and has experienced a great number of other problems, both in my own life as well as in my family of origin.

This page has a place in the work about ‘Holistic Psychology’, because I believe that for many persons the root cause of alcoholism may lay in the subject that is dealt with in this work and be one and the same, as it is a root cause for an enormous number of human suffering: a lack of Sense of Self.

For full understanding of what a Lack of Sense of Self entices and the impact it has on the development of a person and subsequently on her quality of life, I invite you to look into the explanations as they are presented in this work and website. The subject is complex and in this stage I am unable to give a satisfactory short overview of its content in order to create a short cut to full understanding.

First you do have to spend some time taking in the concepts presented in this Holistic Psychological Model and then my statement hereunder on how this applies to alcoholism will make sense to you:

A Lack of Sense of Self is a psycho-emotional but invisible problem. Therefore we can’t clearly distinguish what is the difference between an alcoholic and a non-alcoholic. However the question really comes down to, as admitted in ‘Under the Influence’ as well: What is the difference between a person who has the power, the will to stop drinking and obey the physical signs of ‘enough’ by ceasing to take in more alcoholic beverages and a person who ignores those bodily signs.

There are two groups of people (after therapy there are three): individuals with a strong Sense of Self and those without a Sense of Self.  Now for the latter the challenges of listening to ‘themselves’ , obeying signs of their bodies, are gigantic:

–   There is no Self to listen to; there is no Self to interpret signs of the body either

–   The person with a Lack of Sense of Self’s problems are very basic and lay on a deep psycho-emotional level. His or her need to hide in the world of alcohol (and drugs) is great, greater as for those who have a Sense of Self which enables them to take charge of situations, whatever bad they are at some point. For them the ‘I’ is present at some point to pick up the pieces and make changes.

The person with a Lack of Sense of Self has a lack of concrete understanding of his or her own particular condition; there is no willpower as there is no active subject to exert the willpower all together.

–   As a result there is a catch 22 condition: due to the inaccessibility of the problem the person keeps on hiding in alcohol which aggravates the condition as physical addiction kicks in.

In short I would like to state that, contrary to what the above mentioned book proclaims, it being that there would be no mysterious X-factor that sheds a light on the question of why some people are predisposed to become alcoholics, there actually is one. It is the absence of a (Natural) Sense of Self.

*Milam, Ph.D. James R., & Ketcham, Katherine (1981). Under the Influence, a guide to the myths and realities of Alcoholism. New York: Bantam Books

As I am working my way through the one and only booklet that seems to be a guideline for gathering knowledge on what the facts are about alcoholism and which dates from 1981, Under the Influence*, I can’t still help to feel the need to publish my personal opinion. When I first started to look into this subject, shortly after the death of my brother Pim in 2003, who suffered a terrible death as a diabetic and severely addicted alcoholic, I was strongly opinionated against the ‘disease model’ , suspecting deeper and more informative reasons for the self-destructive behavior of the alcoholic.

I had started some 20 years before that incident, to try to make sense of the experiences of myself and of those of my brother. My brother’s death and my own severe insomnia and other difficulties in daily life, heavy problems of 2 of the 5 members of my family of origin, motivated me to draw my very own conclusions that I wish to share on this webpage.

As I reread (in 2010) ‘Under the Influence’ I find, compared to my initial reading in 2003, much more value in the answers the author gives to the so fiercely debated question whether alcohol is a disease for which one is to be pitied rather than to be blamed or a situation that can be avoided by taking one’s personal responsibility.

I am impressed with the explanations of the chemical reactions in the body that requires a lot of knowledge that I don’t have. I accept that and am grateful for the information. However the concept that I have been suspected to be and stay absent in the common ways it is understood why some people are/become alcoholics and others don’t is indeed still not mentioned and based on that fact I presume, unknown.

I consider it my duty to shed a light on it from the position where I am in: a former insomniac who lost her brother to alcoholism and has experienced a great number of other problems, both in my own life as well as in my family of origin.

This page has a place in the work about ‘Holistic Psychology’, because I believe that for many persons the root cause of alcoholism may lay in the subject that is dealt with in this work and be one and the same, as it is a root cause for an enormous number of human suffering: a lack of Sense of Self.

For full understanding of what a Lack of Sense of Self entices and the impact it has on the development of a person and subsequently on her quality of life, I invite you to look into the explanations as they are presented in this work and website. The subject is complex and in this stage I am unable to give a satisfactory short overview of its content in order to create a short cut to full understanding.

First you do have to spend some time taking in the concepts presented in this Holistic Psychological Model and then my statement hereunder on how this applies to alcoholism will make sense to you:

A Lack of Sense of Self is a psycho-emotional but invisible problem. Therefore we can’t clearly distinguish what is the difference between an alcoholic and a non-alcoholic. However the question really comes down to, as admitted in ‘Under the Influence’ as well: What is the difference between a person who has the power, the will to stop drinking and obey the physical signs of ‘enough’ by ceasing to take in more alcoholic beverages and a person who ignores those bodily signs.

There are two groups of people (after therapy there are three): individuals with a strong Sense of Self and those without a Sense of Self. Now for the latter the challenges of listening to ‘themselves’ , obeying signs of their bodies, are gigantic:

There is no Self to listen to; there is no Self to interpret signs of the body either

The person with a Lack of Sense of Self’s problems are very basic and lay on a deep psycho-emotional level. His or her need to hide in the world of alcohol (and drugs) is great, greater as for those who have a Sense of Self which enables them to take charge of situations, whatever bad they are at some point. For them the ‘I’ is present at some point to pick up the pieces and make changes.

The person with a Lack of Sense of Self has a lack of concrete understanding of his or her own particular condition; there is no willpower as there is no active subject to exert the willpower all together.

As a result there is a catch 22 condition: due to the inaccessibility of the problem the person keeps on hiding in alcohol which aggravates the condition as physical addiction kicks in.

In short I would like to state that, contrary to what the above mentioned book proclaims, it being that there would be no mysterious X-factor that sheds a light on the question of why some people are predisposed to become alcoholics, there actually is one. It is the absence of a (Natural) Sense of Self.

*Milam, Ph.D. James R., & Ketcham, Katherine (1981). Under the Influence, a guide to the myths and realities of Alcoholism. New York: Bantam Books